Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers welcome the New Orleans Hornets in a spirited game of five-on-five basketball. Earlier this week Joel Przybilla declared he was 90% certain he'd return from his nearly-year long absence tonight, then a few days after making that announcement he was 100% certain he came down with a virus and ended up in the hospital. After surgically removing the flu from his knees—no Blazers play is allowed to suffer from a non-knee related ailment—Przybilla was "questionable." But word just came down that the Vanilla Gorilla will miss tonight with the stomach flu (of the knees).
In other news, some guy named Brandon Roy (sounds French to me) will return to action tonight.
The last time Roy played it was two weeks ago against these very same New Orleans Hornets. He labored through 22 minutes of court time and chipped in all of two points. The Blazers lost by 20 that night. That was back when New Orleans was the NBA's lone undefeated team, but they have struggled recently (well, as much as a 11-3 team can struggle) by dropping two games in a row, including a loss to the lowly Clippers. As for tonight, Roy will see 30-35 minutes just as long as his knee doesn't explode like a battered piñata.
If that does happen, free Charleston Chews for everyone!
Remember when we all kinda/sorta believed that the Blazers might trade for Chris Paul during this offseason. Those sure were a fun couple of weeks. Paul will on the court tonight, but not for Portland.
Oh, welcome back Monty Williams. The former Blazers assistant coach has graduated to the big kid table as the new head coach of the Hornets. He'll know all the tricks of Nate McMillan's playbook, like the "Stand around and don't do anything" offense set, and the "Screw it, let Roy do everything, I'm gonna get me a soda" play. The latter of which will be implemented if this game is close in the final seconds.
For the fashion conscious, the Blazers are in their RIp City throwbacks while the Hornets are in the pinstripes that remind us all of this era. Oh Grandmama, you were so young then.
10:57 - Roy matches his total (two points!) from his last game. Don't want to talk crazy, but perhaps he'll even double it. 4-0 Blazers.
10:11 - Aldridge swats David West, then Marcus Camby does the same to Emeka Okafor. One inbound pass later, no one guards Trevor Ariza and the Hornets get on the board. 4-2 Blazers.
9:12 - New Orleans have a guy on the roster named Quincy Pondexter? Ha, what a nerd. Really though, that sounds like a character from an '80s teen movie. Oh yeah, there is a basketball game being played right now. 7-6 Hornets.
7:01 - Roy with a pair of threes on consecutive plays. That guy sure can play, wonder why McMillan never starts him? 12-9 Blazers.
6:15 - Oh, so that's what Quincy Pondexter looks like. I take it all back. Please don't hurt me. 16-9 Blazers.
5:45 - Andre Miller steps out of bounds with the ball. That is Jarrett Jack's move, don't steal it from him. It's all he has. 16-10 Blazers.
3:34 - Camby with a put-back layup. Camby with a series of dramatic air punches. It looked like he was trying to get a big rig to blow its horn. Karl Malone approves. 23-18 Blazers.
2:10 - SEAN MARKS JUST SHOT THE BASKETBALL AND IT WENT INTO THE NET! TWO POINTS! KIWI POWER! 28-20 Blazers.
1:05 - After a turnover Marks stuffs Trevor Ariza at the rim but gets the whistle from this blatantly anti-Kiwi officiating crew. I bet they even hate the Clean. 29-25 Blazers.
12:00 - Eight Blazers played in the first quarter and all eight scored. Sorry for the ALL CAPS explosion, but I really didn't see that Marks jumper coming. I assumed Blaze the Trail Cat would score before he would. 33-26 Blazers.
10:42 - Marks again with a jumper. The irony as worn off. Never let that man touch the ball again. 35-31 Blazers.
10:04 - On a layup attempt Wesley Matthews hits the floor. Hard. He is still facedown on the hardwood. This is not a new experience here, but the crowd is eerily quiet. 35-31 Blazers.
10:04 - After a little less than a minute, Matthews is able to get up on his own and is ushered off the court by the training staff. Injuries and Blazers, two things that just always seem to find a way to go together. 35-31 Blazers.
8:41 - Roy scoops up a Jarrett Jack turnover—just like old times—and takes off on the world's slowest fastbreak ever and gingerly tosses the ball at the basket while getting fouled. His knees might work, but there isn't much confidence in them. 39-35 Blazers.
6:47 - But Roy can still torch Willie Green on defense. He slides by Greene for a pretty reverse layup. 46-39 Blazers.
4:16 - On a loose ball Roy and Rudy Fernandez collide. Hard. Rudy is on the court and once again it's very quiet in here. Ugh. 46-43 Blazers.
4:16 - Rudy lives! He is off the floor, because if he wasn't the Blazer Dancers would be dancing on him right this very second. And those ladies have heels on. Also Matthews has returned to the bench after his head bounced off the floor earlier this quarter. 46-43 Blazers.
3:35 - It just occurred to me that Chris Paul can dribble better behind his body than most players can in front of theirs. That is sort of depressing. 47-46 Hornets.
2:59 - The Blazers haven't scored a single point in nearly four minutes and it's a 10-0 Hornets run right now. 47-46 Hornets.
2:03 - Roy can dunk! That fastbreak dunk stops the Hornets' 12-0 run, plus it proves that his knees have enough sawdust in them to get off the court. Good to know. 49-48 Hornets.
0:00 - Jason Smith (the Sean Marks of the Hornets) hits a jumper at the buzzer. That was a rough second quarter for the home team. 54-48 Hornets.
HALFTIME: Time to steal some popcorn from the media room.
10:52 - Miller opens the half with his patented old man "jump" shot. That reminds me of this article that came out this week. Why only play to age 40? If any player can do 50 it's Dre. I sweat more sitting in press row than he does on the court. Shut up, it's a gland problem. 57-52 Hornets.
9:20 - Old man Miller to Aldridge for the alley-oop. One play later Miller scoops up a loose turnover, dishes to Roy for the layup and now the Blazers are within three. 59-56 Hornets.
6:38 - Chris Paul with that dribbling around everyone for the easy layup play. Yeah, that one. 61-58 Hornets.
6:04 - Batum just blocked an Okafur shot in a bad, bad way. But the Blazers don't get the loose ball, so two points for the other team. 63-62 Hortnets.
4:42 - Rudy is questionable to return with a "pelvic bone contusion." All three of those words sound painful. In more injury-ish news, Matthews is back in the game. His pelvis is just fine. 66-62 Hornets.
3:59 - And down goes Sean Marks with a pretty obvious sprained/broken ankle. Seriously. This is happening. 68-63 Hornets.
3:44 - Marks hobbles off to the locker room. That is three players on the night, and yet another Blazers center to be injured. Marcus Camby is like the Omega Man right about now. 69-63 Hornets.
2:21 - Batum-shak-a-missed-dunka! Wait, what? A missed dunk from Frenchy #88 and now this game is getting out of hand. 75-63 Hornets.
0:20 - The Blazers scored 33 in the first 12 minutes... and 32 in the next 24 minutes. It's been over five minutes without a field goal. What's it gonna be? Valiant fourth quarter comeback? Or more stagnant offense and injuries? Maybe both? 75-65 Hornets.
11:42 - Matthews with a three to start the quarter. He had one point leading up to that shot. Then again, he nearly put a hole in the court with his head, so he gets a pass. 75-68 Hornets.
10:34 - Matthews and Aldridge both skip an easy layup—assuming the other player will get it—and the unstoppable force that is DJ Mbenga picks it up and drops in an easy layup. 77-68 Hornets.
8:34 - Mbenga pushes Matthews to the floor and gets whistled for the foul. I guess superstar calls really don't exist. 79-70 Hornets.
8:17 - Roy with a jumper. At least Portland is scoring. Granted, doing so while with Chris Paul on the bench makes things a whole lot easier. 79-72 Hornets.
6:48 - Roy gets the double team treatment—not bad for a guy who scored two points in his last game. But since New Orleans started cracking down on him, the Blazers offense is once again dead in the water. 79-72 Hornets.
5:27 - Portland, you have about another minute or two to start your run. Do it right now. Otherwise, fourth place, here you come. 81-72 Hornets.
4:15 - Paul with a jumper over Aldridge. The Blazers haven't score in over four minutes. I think you know where this is going. 85-72 Hornets.
3:37 - Nearing another the five minutes scoring drought, Aldridge hits an and-one layup. Points! Ugh, still down double digits though. 85-75 Hornets.
2:41 - Hey, someone sum up this game in a single play: Aldridge with a missed dunk. Yeah, that'll work. 88-75 Hornets.
2:19 - This loss will be the first time this season Portland has held a team under 100 without defeating them. Unless they suck it up and start letting New Orleans score at will to hit the century mark. 91-75 Hornets.
0:00 - Your final score, New Orleans 97, Portland 78. The Blazers scored 42% of their points in the first quarter, not a good sign. With this loss Portland inches dangerously closer to the .500 mark (8-7). The Blazers head off on a East Coast road trip, but we will see you December 5th when the Clippers come to town. Have a good night.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!